Iliotibial band syndrome (3044)

Key points below

What is Iliotibial Band Syndrome?

There is a large band of tissue on the outside of the leg. It starts at the hip and attaches below the knee where the band crosses the knee joint. This is called the iliotibial band (ITB). When the band becomes swollen and painful, it is called ITB Syndrome.  It is most painful when the knee is at a 30 degree bend.
The repeated rubbing of the band over the outside of the knee causes the pain and swelling. Activities such as running, cycling, or cross country skiing can cause this.  

What are the symptoms?

Pain on the outside of the knee above where the knee bends.  There will be more pain with going down stairs and running downhill.
Tenderness when touching the outside of the knee. 
Often there is no pain at the start of activity. The pain will start and get worse with ongoing activity.  You may not be able to continue the activity.

How is it diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will review your activities.  It is diagnosed by the location of the pain, symptoms and a physical exam.

How is it treated?

Pain medicine, decreased activity, resting and icing the leg may help with pain and swelling.  Other treatments may include:  
Exercises for stretching and strengthening for the hip and leg muscles.  A physical therapist may help you get started.  Regular therapy helps you learn an exercise routine. 
Icing.  Use a bag of crushed ice, or frozen peas or corn.  You can use these items as an ice pack.  Do not eat the corn or peas once they have been used as an ice pack.
Put a towel between skin and bag. If you put the ice pack directly on the skin, it may cause frost bite.  Put the bag on the sore area.
Leave on for 15 to 20 minutes. 
You will also have a home exercise program.  


Call your child’s doctor, nurse, or clinic if you have any questions or concerns or if your child has special health care needs that were not covered by this information.